For this 2020 edition of Watches & Wonders, Vacheron Constantin presents its Overseas Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin Skeleton, a stunning display of watchmaking prowess housed in a luxurious pink gold case with an ultra-slim height of just 8.1mm. Nothing has changed regarding the case, its proportions, the layout or the beating heart of the movement powered by Vacheron’s prestigious Calibre 1120 QP. The novelty of this 2020 edition lies in its intrepid skeletonisation. Hand-finished movement parts, in line with the Maison’s longstanding tradition of Haute Horlogerie, are combined with grey NAC-treated parts for a contemporary face in keeping with the sporty spirit of the Overseas.
Brief Background of the Overseas
In 1977, Vacheron Constantin introduced reference 222 to mark the brand’s 222nd anniversary. Designed by Jörg Hysek, the 222 was a high-end sports watch with a tonneau-shaped 120m water-resistant case, a serrated bezel and an integrated bracelet. Reinvented in 2016, under the aegis of artistic director Christian Selmoni, the Overseas collection is Vacheron’s answer to the luxury sports watch. The distinct, powerful design of the case is built around a hexagonal, notched and polished bezel evoking the insignia Maltese Cross resting on a tonneau-shaped case with contrasting matte finishes. Complemented by automatic, anti-magnetic movements, the versatility of the watch is underscored with its winning DIY system to change the mood of the watch with the any of the three bracelets provided. Ranging from automatic time-and-date models to dual time and world time models, from chronographs to tourbillons all the way up to ultra-thin perpetual calendars, the collection is well furnished.
What is interesting to note is that the ultra-thin perpetual calendar made its debut back in 2016 with the relaunch of the Overseas. A somewhat unexpected complication in a family of luxury sports watches, the closed model version is now joined by this openworked version.
The case, made from 18k pink gold, has not been altered and measures 41.5mm and boasts an ultra-thin height of just 8.1mm. With its polished hexagonal bezel and contrasting brushed case and bracelet, the external elements of the watch display the traditional high-end finishes of the Maison.
The perpetual calendar layout is identical to the closed dial version and is arranged around four sub-dials. The ring at 12 o’clock indicates the months, but you will notice that they jump in a strange order. A typical Vacheron feature of its QP movements, this 48-month sub-dial indicates the months of four years, including the months of the leap year. The days of the week at 9 o’clock are countered by the date at 3 o’clock and the phases of the moon are placed at 6 o’clock. The pink gold hands and applied hour markers are enhanced with luminescence and there is a chapter ring for the minutes with blue Arabic numerals and black markers.
A highly regarded complication, the perpetual calendar movement (calibre 1120 QPSQ) powering this watch appears in a new guise and now reveals all its intriguing mechanical parts under the sapphire crystals on both sides of the case. Skeletonisation is an art in itself and consists of hollowing out components without compromising their reliability. And when it comes to skeletonising an already complicated QP movement in an ultra-thin format, there are very few watchmakers qualified for this challenging task. Since the movement is now on view, special handmade finishes have been performed on the parts: surfaces are decorated with satin-brushed finishes; straight lines and curves are bevelled to catch the light; and then there is circular brushing, sunburst finishing, circular graining and polishing. In addition to the hand-crafted finishes, some parts of the mechanism are treated to an NAC electrolytic process that gives them a contemporary anthracite grey colour. Another touch that contributes to its contemporary face is the thinly veiled cover of the moon phase crafted in sapphire to reveal the second moon.
Ultra-thin perpetual calendar movement
The Overseas Perpetual Calendar will not require any adjustments to its calendar indications or moon phases until 1 March 2100. Achieving this level of performance in a calibre composed of 276 components and just 4.05mm height denotes the prowess of Vacheron’s watchmakers.
Visible through the sapphire caseback are the gear trains and the NAC-treated oscillating weight with its segment in 22k gold. For the first time in the Overseas collection, the rotor is openworked to highlight its Maltese Cross design. Calibre 1120 QPSQ, which bears the prestigious Geneva Hallmark seal, is an automatic movement oscillating at 19,800vph/2.75Hz with a 40-hour power reserve for the hours, minutes, perpetual calendar (date, day, month, leap year) and moon phases.
With perhaps the easiest DIY strap-changing systems on the market, the Overseas is always accompanied by three interchangeable straps. In this case, the watch comes with a luxurious gold bracelet with satin-brushed Maltese Cross-shaped links and two additional straps in blue alligator leather and blue rubber.
The price of the Vacheron Constantin Overseas Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin Skeleton (Ref. 4300V/120R-B547) is EUR 130,000 and will only be available at Vacheron Constantin boutiques. More details at vacheron-constantin.com.